Pat's Schoolhouse is one of Singapore's best-known preschools – we caught up with Principal Ada Teo to find out why she loves working with kids....
We love meeting the personalities behind Singapore’s greatest places for kids to learn, and Pat’s Schoolhouse has been a huge success with families with preschoolers for good reason. From Infant Care through to K2, both local and expat families feel at home at the 19 branches islandwide! We had a chat with Ada Teo, the fun-loving Principal of Pat’s Schoolhouse Tanglin and Prinsep to find out more about why she loves working with young learners and what makes her school tick…
Hi Ada, please tell us a little about yourself – where is your hometown and what would your students be surprised to know?
I live in the eastern part of Singapore, Bedok, 10 minutes’ drive away from Changi International Airport. My students will be surprised to know that I actually enjoy playing and running around the playground, just like them!
What’s your philosophy towards education?
I believe that all children are unique individuals. They are all made with special gifts. I like to help them see what they can do best and be thankful for that gift.
How is your preschool different to others in Singapore?
We are a local preschool that operates from 7am to 7pm to cater to the needs of working parents. I have a higher percentage of local children vs expat ones. We believe that a language cannot be taught, but caught! Therefore, we have an English and a Chinese-speaking teacher in class at all times. All moments are teachable moments: we are proud to offer a bilingual immersion program.
Can you tell us a little about the teaching approach?
Our teaching approach is “teacher-facilitated, child-guided inquiry. A theme will be introduced every term of 10 weeks. We set up our environment to provoke our children’s thinking. That is how we engage them in a discussion to find out their prior knowledge on the theme. We tap into children’s natural curiosity in wanting to find out more, then help them make connections between prior knowledge and new learning. Next, we extend their learning by helping them apply the skill in different contexts. Finally, we provide opportunities for the children to reflect, learn from their experiences and keep improving.
Tell us about your school’s community. What do parents tell you they value about the school?
Parents who are part of our school community believe that children are active learners and learn best when their senses are engaged. They value the way we teach children the academics but believe in delivering through dramatisations, cookery, games, music, craft and creative writing. They also value the “home feel” when they step into my centre.
What do you think are the greatest challenges young people face today? And the greatest opportunities you feel are open to them?
I feel that the greatest challenge young people face today is being active! We spend at least an hour every day playing at our rooftop outdoor playground. We incorporate motor skills program into our core curriculum to develop our children holistically.
We are blessed to be living in Singapore with many open parks. It is healthier for our children and ourselves to spend weekends kicking balls, playing with bubbles, flying a kite and running at the parks, rather than spending hours at the enrichment centres!
Can you share any lessons you’ve learned about communicating and connecting with kids throughout your years in education?
Children are fun to be with! I enjoy playing and chatting with them. Recently, I hurt my finger while trying to remove some decorations. My children showed concern and asked if I was alright, and towards the end of the day, a three-year old boy came up to me and checked if my finger was still bleeding. I thanked him for being so thoughtful. I am very happy to see children under my care showing empathy to others!
What do you love most about leading this school?
I love seeing the children feeling happy, learning and interacting with one another and the adults around them. My greatest joy comes from seeing them progressing from one level to another and finally standing on stage very confidently saying their lines and singing their songs at their graduation concert the year they turn six! I am always thankful to my teachers who are my front-liners: they give selflessly to the children, are passionate and patient in wanting the best for our children. I am nothing without them.
This post is sponsored by Pat’s Schoolhouse.